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Middle East economies suffer $200bn in losses from Covid, World Bank warns

People wear face masks as a preventive measure against the coronavirus (COVID-19) in Tehran, Iran, on 17 April 2021 [Fatemeh Bahrami/Anadolu Agency]
People wear face masks as a preventive measure against the coronavirus (COVID-19) in Tehran, Iran, on 17 April 2021 [Fatemeh Bahrami/Anadolu Agency]

Due to the pandemic, the economies of the Middle East and North Africa region will continue to incur losses of around $200 billion until the end of 2021, the World Bank announced yesterday.

The WB explained that the costs were calculated by comparing where the region's Gross Domestic Product (GDP) would have been if the pandemic had not hit its countries.

The report added that the MENA GDP had contracted by 3.8 percent in 2020, adding that it was expected to grow by 2.8 percent this year.

"Long-term socio-economic trends and underfunded public health systems left the MENA region ill-prepared to respond to the pandemic," the report warned, noting that the latter had contributed a "tenuous and uneven recovery as the region struggles to emerge from COVID-19."

On his part, the bank's MENA vice president, Ferid Belhaj, described the pandemic economic impact as "crippling", stressing that that latter was a "reminder that economic development and public health are inextricably linked."

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"It is also a sad reality check that MENA's health systems which were considered relatively developed, cracked at the seams under the crisis," Belhaj added.

He pointed out that the region's real GDP per capita, which measures living standards, would experience a "tenuous and uneven recovery across MENA in 2021," explaining that it would grow by 1.1 percent after declining by 5.4 percent last year.

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